Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Vicente Cifuentes
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Release Date: 24th August 2022
Despite primarily comprising of a lengthy battle between the first-ever supernatural heroes team for the Valiant Universe and the seemingly unstoppable Exarch Fane, Cullen Bunn’s storyline for this twenty-page periodical still manages to imbue its audience with plenty of exposition as to why “death and destruction” are suddenly raining down upon our planet in the shape of a werewolf army. In fact, at times Bunn crams so much information into this harrowing action-sequence, that it’s difficult to comprehend everything which is occurring upon an initial reading, requiring a secondary perusal to better understand just what is taking place; “He’s… It can’t be… He’s fighting it!”
Foremost of these hurdles to overcome is the sheer number of arcane-powered artefacts which are almost causally thrown about the battlefield during the cast’s titanic tussle with “a villain from the Veil.” Obviously, the all-mysterious Book of Shadows takes centre stage, courtesy of this tome of terrible magic evidently being capable of single-handedly warding off anything which the likes of Shadowman, Punk Mambo, Doctor Mirage, Persephone and even Eternal Warrior can throw at its owner. But then there’s also the pocket-dimension housing Ring of Solomon, the portal cleaving Abyssal Sword, and Fane’s almost Sith-like hand-axe which this comic’s audience need to appreciate for the colossal close-combat weapon exchanges to make sense.
Thankfully though, once the titular characters have fled their unbeaten foe and Gilad Anni-Padda is given time to further explain just how he came to first encounter their enemy in the Veil, Bunn’s book slows down just enough to tell its scintillating story without throwing in something new every other panel. Indeed, this passage focusing upon “the Fist and Steel of the Earth” is a good opportunity for the publication’s audience to pause, assimilate everything which has come before them, and then follow the paranormal quintet as they heatedly discuss their future course of action to beat the “Dracula wannabe!”
Probably shouldering the Lion’s share of this comic’s workload is Vicente Cifuentes, who manages to cram an incredible amount of mystical magic into every one of his prodigiously pencilled panels. The Spanish illustrator does an especially noteworthy job of imbuing the snake-like chains constantly flailing around Fane with unnatural life. Whilst his vampire thralls, bald-headed, gaunt and disconcertingly fanged, move with all the ungainly athleticism a horror fan might expect from so lowly a minion of Nosferatu.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]